Losing a semi-final never feels good. Especially when a team has looked out of their depths in the league campaign. If there was one thread of hope that Arsenal fans were holding onto this season, it was the Europa League, and they looked certain to reach the Final to face Manchester United. But the Gunners’ exit at the hands of their previous manager Unai Emery slashed their hopes of entering the Champions League through the back door.
The majority of Arsenal fans have targeted Mikel Arteta for Arsenal’s recent decline. However, it is worth pointing out that the downward trajectory started well in the middle of the last decade.
The latter years of Arsene Wenger era was painful too. Arsenal were hardly competing with the “big boys” of England.
Then, Unai Emery entered the frame. The club missed out on the Champions League spot in the last few weeks of the 2018/19 campaign. And then astonishingly lost to London rivals Chelsea in the Europa League final. The Spaniard never recovered from that period and was relieved of his duties exactly six months down the line.
Mikel Arteta finds himself in a similar position. Hence, the Arsenal faithful must question themselves, whether the problems at their beloved club lie deeper than they think?
Those who were criticizing Arteta on their social media handles, repeatedly came up with words such as “incompetent manager,” “inexperienced coach,” “not up to the standards of Arsenal.” Although those statements might be true, that cannot be said of Arsenal’s previous two managers in Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery.
Where Wenger won countless accolades during his time at North London, Emery was a highly respected coach across Europe. His teams had won the Europa League, the French League and cups and many more trophies. Maybe it says something; The problems are not just at a superficial level.
Speaking ahead of the match against West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, Arteta told the reporters that there were things that he cannot say in public.
He said: “They are things to analyse more internally, I am sorry. We have done that. There are things that we cannot discuss here.
“I take full responsibility for my part, for sure, since I arrived here what I have tried to do, giving my life, my best ability, investing every drop of energy that I have emotionally to support everything that has been going around with my knowledge, with staff, with all the players that are trying to contribute with all the club to give our best.
The Spaniard continued, “But so far it has not been enough and this when the question mark comes, why it is not enough? Is it just a thing? Is it the manager? Is it many other stuff? What is it?”
Of course, the results cannot go like this forever if Arsenal have any ambition to be back competing for the big titles in England as well as Europe.
Arsenal have a right-back in Hector Bellerin who reportedly does not want to be at the Emirates. Same is the case with Bernd Leno. There are players who don’t fit the style of Mikel Arteta.
There are big questions marks on the likes of Nicolas Pepe, Willian, Matteo Guendouzi, Lucas Torreira, Rob Holding and many more, that whether they fit into the Arsenal mould or whether they are just round pegs trying to be inserted in square holes.
Thus, revamping the squad and backing Arteta at least till the end of the year, might be an unpopular opinion right now, but it might turn out to be a clever one in a few months time.
But Edu’s role is a massive one this summer. Arsenal cannot allow Arteta to recruit players exactly according to his liking.
If they do so, they will be in the same position they were in when they sacked Arsene Wenger in 2018 and Unai Emery in 2019.
Edu needs to find a balance between pleasing the current Arsenal manager and looking at the broad picture of the football club.
Because as they say, “A good technical director gives the manager what he wants. But an excellent one knows when to say ‘no’ to the manager.”